Novak Djokovic ended his tumultuous year on a breathtaking high by dismantling Casper Ruud to win the title match at the ATP Finals, pocketing almost $5million in the process.
The man who was deported from Australia after a vaccination and visa dispute in January, then refused entry to the United States later in the campaign, scorched to a 7-5 6-3 victory against rising star Ruud.
This was a sixth triumph for Djokovic at the ATP Finals, matching Roger Federer's record, and at the age of 35 he is also the oldest champion at the event. Federer was previously the oldest, being 30 when he captured the 2011 title in London.
The tournament has since moved to Turin, and Djokovic reels in $4.74million for a victory that shows he remains the player to beat, wherever and whenever he gets the chance to play.
Serbian superstar Djokovic had two chances to break in the second game but Ruud resisted, and the younger man saved another break point in the eighth game too, but a further opportunity came at 6-5 after Ruud paddled a backhand into the net. The 23-year-old Norwegian sent the ball long in the next rally to slip behind.
It was becoming a masterclass from Djokovic and he was pummelling the ball from the back of the court, breaking Ruud's serve for a 3-1 lead in the second set. Djokovic later won a 36-shot rally to set up championship point, sealing victory with an ace down the centre.
Ruud, a runner-up this season at the French Open and US Open, had watched each of Djokovic's previous ATP Finals victories on television, and this time he had a prime spot to witness the 21-time grand slam winner at the top of his game.
Try as he might, Ruud could not find a way to fight back once the stranglehold was with Djokovic, who heads towards 2023 with his appetite for the biggest trophies in tennis far from sated.
Djokovic – 9/0
Ruud – 6/1
Djokovic – 31
Ruud – 17
BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 2/5
Ruud – 0/0